JETHRO TULL: LIVE EMPIRE POOL WEMBLEY
JUNE 23rd 1973
This review was written by Andrew Tyler in "Sounds" music newspaper.
I remember the time when you could hum along to a Jethro Tull tune. I even
remember the time you could hum along to a Yessong. If you attempted either these
days' you'd undoubtedly choke on your tongue or swallow your tonsils.
And so it is with Tull's latest work-"A Passion Play"-which they brought,
reluctantly perhaps, to London's Empire Pool over the weekend. I have to report it
was a gravely dull and disappointing business that, on the first night at least,
half-silenced and half-antagonised the crowd. It was only after Tull's delivery of
"Thick As A Brick" and some material from earlier albums that their followers,
clutching April 28th ticket stubs, rose to their feet and roared in an approving
With "Passion Play" Tull seem to have followed the wearying trail of the bulk
of our rock intelligentia: groups like Crimson, Yes, Genesis and ELP, who just
won't have it unless they're performing the musical equivalent of a triple
reverse somersauly every other bar.
It's a wasteful, self-consuming process that British and German bands seem
inexorably drawn towards, and although it guarantees the odd splash on "Old Grey
Whistle," I suspect these bands are moving further and further away from their
There's little warmth of heart to "Passion Play" and even though it's a
remarkably brave and near-perfect accomplishment, you find yourself falling away
after the opening minutes.
To be fair on Ian Anderson and Co. there can be few bands around to match their
dynamism and finesse, and "Passion Play" in pure technical terms, is difficult to
fault. It's amazingly sharp and quick-witted. Involving a dazzling light-show and
full-colour film sequence-a dream fantasy production with dancers masquerading as
newts, bees and hares and a totally-insane dialogue. There's no feedback. No one
misses cues. No one breaks a string, and for these things I suppose we should be grateful.
Yet, the whole production washed across my mind and I have a feeling it did the
same to the majority at the pool.
Robin Trower's opening set -the first major exposure for the three-piece of
Robin, Jim Dewer and Reg Isidore- was far more satisfying. Another faultless
performance, but this time with feeling.